A DEVOTED Catholic who has raised thousands of pounds to help others has seen his dream of meeting the Pope finally come true.
Norman Imms, 66, travelled to The Vatican to meet the man who is his inspiration and present him with a collection of work about his charity achievements.
Norman has been working with pupils at Acre Rigg Junior School, in Peterlee, to put together a collection of photos and letters to present to Pope Benedict XVI.
Norman presented the folder of work to His Holiness in the Audience Hall.
“The whole trip was really joyful,” said Norman, from Peterlee.
“I was met by the nuns at the airport and I stayed with them. They looked after me at the convent and I went to mass with them every morning.”
Devout Catholic Norman was forced to give up his job as a midwife after developing paranoid schizophrenia, manic depression and psychosis.
He says he had suffered from the three medical conditions for more than 30 years before he prayed with Mother Theresa in 1997 and immediately found himself well again.
After that, Norman became a co-worker for Mother Theresa, collecting supplies for her Shishu Bhavan orphanage as a thank you.
The folder Norman presented contained pictures of the Acre Rigg pupils, as well as children from the Shishu Bhavan orphanage in Calcutta, which the pupils have helped over the years with donations of toys.
Norman said the visit certainly lived up to his expectations.
He said: “The Holy Father arrived on his Popemobile, he started to bless everybody and he came up the ramp.
“He was so close I could literally touch him. I was so happy for this exceptional moment for our school.
“The audience took about an hour he was talking in lots of different languages. There were people from all over the world.”
Then it was time for Norman to meet the Holy Father.
Norman said: “I was honoured to be presented to the Holy Father. It was quite overwhelming.
“I could not stop talking. I talked away to him. I showed him the photographs and he took a real interest in it all and he said to pray and keep up the good work.”
Norman was so excited to meet the Pope that he did not realise his time limit was up and security had to remind Norman it was over and move him along.
He said: “But it was very beautiful, to be able to take God’s love back to the children, which is what it’s about.”